Have we reached smartphone-peak?
Have we finally realised we need to unplug ourselves from endless apps and social media connections? No more anxiety from FOMO or FOBO?
The NoPhone might have been a prank by two Canadian entrepreneurs having a dig at the latest smartphone upgrade but now there is a real alternative: the Light Phone.
It’s the size of a credit card and can make calls and store 10 numbers and that’s it. Retro or what?
It will be launched in the US by two friends, Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang, who used to design Motorola phones (I loved my flip-top Motorola) but grew jaded with the constant pressure to come up with increasingly addictive and life-consuming apps.
If you believe the statistics – and I find these figures unbelievable and not sure of their source – we tap our phones on average 2,617 times a day with almost 90% of us unable to resist checking our devises at leat once between midnight and 5.00 am. I am clearly an outlier in these statistics and in my usage despite blogging and using several twitter accounts.
Another survey from Deloitte however seems to confirm this trend with users aged 18-24 the worst offenders in that they are the ones most likely to use their phones in the middle of the night. These people are truly addicted and as Paul Lee, who led the research at Deloitte says “Consumers will need to learn how to run their lives with smartphones, as opposed to having their lives run by their devices.”
Another trend is that of using video calls and social networks rather than standard voice calls which are declining. (Perhaps people like the idea of free calls and encryption?) A third of the respondents in the survey said they hadn’t made a voice call in the previous week.
Deloitte’s Key findings:
- One in three UK adults has argued with their partner about using their mobile phone too much, according to Deloitte.
- The rows were most common among 25-34 year olds the report found, while 11% of over 65s admitted arguments about overusing phones.
- About a tenth of respondents admitted using their handsets “always” or “very often” while eating at home or in restaurants.
- A third said they regularly used their devices while with friends or watching television.
- One in three UK adults – and half of 18-24 year olds – said they checked their phones in the middle of the night, with instant messaging and social media the most popular activities.
- One in 10 smartphone owners admitted reaching for their phone as soon as they woke up – with a third grabbing the device within five minutes of waking.
However it’s also been reported that a few famous showbiz people have said they are giving up social media and doing a digital detox but I’ll believe that when I see it. They are too narcissistic to be away from their digital followers for long.
There is however a market for old Nokia phones, such as the 3310 and N70, which are selling for hundreds of dollars online (I never liked Nokia phones with their fiddly keyboards but for a time they ruled the world).
But back to the Light Phone. It will sell for $100 in America and should be available in the UK by the end of the year. It shares the same number as your regular phone forwarding calls to it. It’s called “going light” – no emails , games or apps. Perfect when you’re out for a meal or enjoying some quiet time in the countryside.
One of the inventors said he was constantly checking what other people were doing on social media and it was chipping away at his own contentment. (See post about social media and depression which proves his point).
“I found I was getting lost in these scroll holes. I would come out not necessarily feeling good about myself. My smartphone was sucking me in. As soon as I stepped away – I call it breaking through the fomo threshold, getting over the fear of missing out, I felt free“.
He said he realised he was happier in those disconnected moments “when I can watch a sunset, appreciate my friends. We want to make a product that helps people appreciate their lives, not control their lives”.
The Light Phone is not a substitute for a smartphone but a supplement, but if it allows you to get away from all the social media intrusion. “Even just 20 minutes for a coffee“. He doesn’t see it as a retro regressive step but as asking the question about what we actually want from technology.
It reminds me that I’ve got a simple Motorola W220 phone I bought in Lithuania 10 years ago to use on my regular trips out there.
No camera, less than £50, on a “pay as you go” contract. But it’s a flip top. It might be so retro it’s trendy!